It’s time for another edition of The Inbox, where we answer the hard hitting questions posed to Cubs beat writer, Carrie Muskat, with a little more substance. You can view Carries answers in her column on www.cubs.com
Why isn’t Bryan LaHair starting every day? He has a .300 average, he’s hitting home runs, and this is supposed to be his opportunity to show his abilities. It doesn’t make sense. — Dean S., Goshen, Ind.
Dean, I agree with you. Nothing drives me more than when people shelter hitters. We see a small sample size and automatically assume that he sucks against the lefties and will never improve. So, we beat on his confidence and sit him against those guys. Then, on the off chance they get to face one on the rare occasion, they look worse because they don’t see them on a regular basis. Just give a guy a chance to prove he can’t do it and can’t improve. Then, once we’ve established that, I’m fine with the platoon. It in a lot of ways mirrors what we do with our kids these days. We shelter them to the point that they aren’t allowed to fail. They live in the everyone gets a ribbon for showing up world that doesn’t let them fall and skin their knee. As a result, kids are going up to be self righteous, self serving punks that think the world is their oyster. There is little to no accountability. Let LaHair get in there and take his hacks. Let him play himself out of the spot instead of just taking him out of it.
I was wondering if Bryan LaHair or Anthony Rizzo are serviceable at any position but first base. It seems to me that Rizzo is just wasting his time Triple-A Iowa and needs more big league at-bats. Any way to get both of them in the lineup? — John B., Ketchikan, Alaska
This, to me, is a two part answer, though it wasn’t meant as a two part question. Answering the actual question first, I would say that if anyone were to move to another spot it would be LaHair. He’s considered the expendable one if we had to choose between the two. Rizzo is the golden boy. He’s been the apple of Jed Hoyer’s eye since the minute he laid eyes on him. He’s Jed’s opus. Nothing will be done to retard his development, especially shifting him all over the diamond. That would fall on LaHair. A quick of Baseball Reference, which I’m not sure why people don’t do themselves before asking the question, would show that LaHair has played 14 games in the OF and 55 at 1B in the majors in his career. In the Minor Leagues over the course of his career we see 33 games in the OF and 724 games at 1B. So, there is no question both guys are groomed to play first base, but I think that if pressed, LaHair could fill in at an OF position. I’m not sure you’d want him to, though.
Moving on to the answer that is more an argument about your statement that Rizzo is just “wasting his time in Triple-A”, I don’t believe that’s true. Every at bat you get, regardless of where it is, is an opportunity to get better. Playing time yields improvement if used properly. We rush guys too quickly now in their development because owners tend not to be as patient with the front office regime as they used to be. It’s a win now / what have you done for me lately type of sports climate we live in and so as a result, top prospects are shuffled through the system before they are truly ready. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m perfectly fine with Rizzo tearing it up, even if it’s being done in AAA. It just means he’ll be more ready when he gets here.
Do the Cubs have a good shortstop at Triple-A? They have to move Starlin Castro to center field. He is not a shortstop at all, and enough is enough with the errors. — Rick V., Woodridge, Ill.
I promised Lizzie I would try not to be hateful in my responses, but this question is just moronic. Why would it make logical sense that if a player is struggling at SS he would all of a sudden be able to be shifted to not only a position that is completely different, but also the hardest of the three outfield spots? I honestly wonder if Rick even watches the games. On top of the oddity of the suggestion, it wouldn’t make organizational sense to shift Castro to CF. You just moved Marlon Byrd in an effort to clear the way for youth at the position, which is right around the corner.
Those are the highlights to this edition of The Inbox. You are now free to resume your day.